This course will examine relationships between music and place throughout the United States. What would “A Day in the Life of Music in the United States” sound like in 2007? What might it have sounded like in 1907 or 1807? Why do some musics remain rooted within their communities, while others find broader audiences and routes of circulation? How does music operate as sonic markers of inclusion or exclusion? Using the case of music in the United States, what does music contribute to our thinking about citizenship?
We will examine a range of musical genres, from placed-based traditions to musics belonging to everyone and no one at the same time. We will also examine a range of book, recording and film/video packaging of “American music/s.” We shall weigh tensions between notions of a “musical mainstream” and “musical subcultures,” and consider how these tensions around music and music-making promotes social bonding or marginaliation.
This course will provide students with several different types of tools.
- Students will acquire techniques and use vocabulary for distinguishing different genres on musical grounds.
- Students will gain techniques for surveying community musicmaking activity.
- Students will develop critical abilities to analyze the discursive dimensions around what musics get heard, where that happens, how it unfolds — and who and what is not heard.
- Students will conceptualize relationships between music and place, and the implications of those relationships for thinking about investments of citizenship.
Required reading will include Music in America by Adelaida Reyes (Oxford 2005) and a coursepack of articles. Students will be responsible for an average of three hours of required listening weekly. Access to a high-speed internet connection will be necessary for much of the assigned listening. There will be writing assignments, including a term project. There will be two objective quizzes, an objective midterm exam, and a final exam. Opportunities for class fieldtrips will be announced at the start of the term.